Lester became president shortly before the economy collapsed and caused the number of minority-owned stores to plummet. Minorities owned 1,805 compounds in 2005, according to NAMAD data, but the Great Recession set in soon after and pushed that tally to 875 in 2011.
After this difficult period, the numbers have increased. The industry saw the biggest gain last year in minority-owned dealerships since 2012, adding 109 roofs to bring the total to 1,366.
Lester is now vice president of the organization. He was selected as one of Automotive News’ Notable Diversity Champions in October.
“I think the industry as a whole has improved by understanding why diversity matters,” Lester said. Automotive News in September. “We’re definitely a long way from where we should be. We’re a long way from parity. We’re still about 6% represented within the minority dealership body, but 30% of all new cars and trucks are bought by an ethnic minority.
“So the goal of parity has yet to be achieved. Overall, the industry is starting to put more effort and emphasis on it, especially in the last three to five years, than she hasn’t done it for some time.”